Morning comes quickly, since I stayed up past 10 writing. My alarm goes off at 4:30 – nobody stirs. I reset it for 5, still nobody stirs. It’s not until I hear movement at 6:05 that I finally
feel like a lazy fuck enter consciousness for good, try to relax into the morning. No one’s in a hurry today.
Still, as the definite slowest, I make it a point to leave first. The others will catch me presently.
They do, of course, one by one, but the sting’s out of it today. It’s just such a lovely morning for hiking, and we’re nearly in the mountains now.
I stop figuratively a million times this morning, what feels like every thirty seconds – to relieve myself, to grab a ginger chew to finish this climb with, to turn on the audiobook once I have adequately soaked in my surroundings. It feels good to walk in silence, with reverence the moment and the beautiful scenery, but I want to finish the story. The dangers of walking with electronics; makes things just about passing the time.
I make it down the first down, to the first water, about when I expect – but I’ve got enough to make it up to the next source a couple miles ahead. Still, between actually finding the water, meeting Strider and Bud, making said decision, and checking the trail register for word of my friends, I have to listen to the end of Innocent Mage four times. It’s an annoying “ending”, but I start Good Omens right after, and am placated by it’s absurdity.
Also, by my friends at Fox Mill Spring!
Yoda and Evac are in conversation about slowing down, staying more together as a group as I roll up, and I release an audible sigh of relief. We’re in the Sierra together, the three of us, and U-Turn, once he rolls in. We sit and enjoy the nice day, and I wonder at how not hungry I am but at how much food I’m putting into my face anyway. So strange. Probably about to get stranger in the mountains.
Then it’s time for me to meander if I’m going to finish the 20.7 miles we’ve agreed to search our feelings at. It’s hot, but breezy, and between the wind and the distractions of Gaiman and Pratchett passing the time, I think I’ll do fine.
I do less than fine, stopping more often than I’d like, needing more food than I’d like, if only because it forces me to stop again. I’ve been asking a lot of it, though, so I try to cut myself some slack, listen to it when it wants food or for me to experiment with lacing my new Altras. It takes me longer than I would like to make it down the hill, but this is it! The profile is barely wiggly from Manter Creek to Kennedy Meadows. Creamy, as Yoda would say.
There are ants at the 20.7 campsite, I am quickly informed by Yoda, Evac, and Suds. The first two want to go a little further on – nine miles, Yoda jokes; one mile, Evac says. One mile I can do. So we eat and I answer questions for CAT, who claims to be the first Chinese-American to hike the Appalachian Trail. I make plans to Google him, should I ever get service ever again. The Sierra are notorious for their lack of contact with the outside world. It should be good for me, or something.
And then we’re cleaning, and then we’re walking, leaving word for U-Turn with other hikers as to where we’re headed.
We make it about a half-mile before we find a flat enough spot, call it with just the three of us. Maybe U-Turn will come. Maybe not. But we’re close to the trail, and he should be able to see us if he passes.
We all settle in quickly – the desert has taught me to love cowboy camping, particularly since there’s no wind tonight. How will I feel about sleeping in a tent in the Sierra? How is the Sierra section starting tomorrow? How have I made it this far, all this way, almost 700 miles, through the desert?
Yoda and Evac break me out of my existential pondering, set up the bear hang, teach me how to spit out my toothpaste spittle without having to dig a cathole for it or pee all over it. We laugh about hiker talk: what goes into bodies and what comes out of them. So nice not to be alone at the end of a long day.
The setting sun seems to draw clouds along after it, thin, wispy things that dance across the sky in streaking patterns. The moon, near full, is almost blinding, so much so that I almost wish I were hiking. My inflamed legs would have something to say about that, though, so I content myself by listening to the crickets and night birds until they serenade me to sleep.
Start: 672.8 • End: 693.9 • Day: 21.1
Notable Accomplishments: Driven (Walked?) to distraction • Finished a book on trail • Kennedy Meadows tomorrow!